HIBBING — Earlier in the week, I got a call from Hibbing High School girls tennis coach Gary Conda.

He called to inform me that his teams’ match with Eveleth-Gilbert was suspended due to the weather, and it was going to be resumed Friday in Hibbing.

He also told me that he was going to have a father/daughter mixed doubles tournament after that match.

What I got next surprised the heck out of me.

He asked me if I wanted to take part in the tournament.

At the time, I didn’t know who I was going to be paired with, but Maddie and Claire Rewertz are on the team, their father Eric, could only team up with one of them.

I know it’s hard to believe that I’m not an elite athlete. I can do a lot of things decently, but I’m not a tennis player. Never claimed to be.

I can stand behind the court and never miss a shot (a lot of curlers know what I’m talking about).

To actually play… Tennis is one sport we never played growing up in the neighborhood. We’d play soccer, baseball, football, hockey and basketball, but as far as I can remember, we never visited a tennis court.

I would play occasionally when my wife and son, when he was much younger, wanted to go to the courts and hit the ball around. Diana is a much better tennis player than I am.

I said I would take part in it, if I didn’t have anything to cover.

As it turned out, Hibbing/Chisholm girls soccer was on the docket for the night, but it started at 4:30 p.m. The mixed doubles tournament was starting at 4 p.m.

I thought I could fit in, and I did.

My partner turned out to be Claire, and I felt sorry for her, but she seemed to be somewhat happy about the pairing.

We were going to play one set up to six, but you didn’t have to win by two. We were playing four points per game, with no deuce, ad out or ad in.

That seemed feasible. Conda didn’t want us out there all night.

Before I left, I told my wife and son that I loved them just in case I didn’t return.

Diana was confused. I told her I was playing tennis, and I wanted her prepared in case I collapsed on the court.

She started laughing hysterically. I didn’t see the humor in that. I was just hoping they had the AED’s ready just in case something happened.

I found a racket in our garage. We have three of them, but one has a slightly bigger hitting surface. That’s the one I took, but it didn’t matter. I hit more balls off the frame of the racket than I did off of the strings.

I got to the court, and stretched my hamstrings before I played. I didn’t need to pull any muscles. I’m too old for that.

When Claire and I took the court, we were paired against Jay Wetzel and his daughter, Sabine, in the first round.

I have to give Claire all of the credit because she carried us to a 6-3 win over the Wetzels. It was a good match. I got some serves over the net, and some volleys, too.

I didn’t get hurt, and I didn’t really get tired (that’s because Claire did all of the running).

Claire and I were on to the next round, and we wound up playing Abigail and Tom Sullivan, who won 6-0 in their first match.

I knew I was in trouble.

Abigail has played No. 1 singles for the Bluejackets, and she’s now playing No. 1 doubles with Maddie Rewartz.

There was no way I was going to touch a ball hit by her, and my prediction came true.

I served OK, but if Abigail hit one at me, I was toast.

We lost 6-1, which ended our time in the tourney.

It was a one-and-done tournament, so at least we got two matches in.

Claire was a trooper. I’m sure she would have preferred to play with her father, but Maddie is a senior, so she had seniority.

How did I feel after playing two sets of tennis?

I was fine right after the matches, but I had a hard time moving around Saturday.

I just want to say thank you to Conda and his team for allowing me to be a part of the action.

Good luck in the playoffs and stay safe.


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